As 2022 came to a close, House Republicans weren’t quite sure who their speaker would be — Kevin McCarthy was still looking for votes at the time — but House Majority Leader Steve Scalise was nevertheless optimistic about the GOP’s legislative prospects. On Dec. 30, the Louisianan sent members a list of “meaningful, ‘ready-to-go’ legislation” that the chamber would take up early in the new Congress.
These “commonsense measures,” Scalise said, “should garner wide support and provide an indication of our bold agenda to come.”
As Politico noted this morning, the House Republican majority will reach the 100-day benchmark this week, and of the 11 “ready-to-go” bills the House majority leader touted, five haven’t yet passed. Of the six proposals the GOP did pass, not one has become law — and the odds of these measures generating serious attention in the Democratic-led Senate are effectively zero.
A CNN report added late last week:
With little room for error in their razor-thin majority, Republicans have so far struggled to deliver on key priorities. ... Despite the handful of successes, the party’s more vulnerable members are frustrated with how the House Republican majority has so far spent its time in power, which has also included a heavy focus on investigations and running defense for former President Donald Trump.
The frustration is understandable. McCarthy, Scalise and their conference spent last year telling voters how great Congress would be once GOP leaders were in a position of power. But after the last Congress ended, McCarthy struggled mightily to convince his own members to rally behind him, and even after he got his hands on the gavel, the party found it difficult to do meaningful work.
There are multiple explanations for this, starting with the fact that the Republican Party remains a post-policy party with no meaningful governing agenda or legislative vision. But that’s just the beginning: McCarthy is a weak House speaker with a small majority — he can lose no more than four votes on any given bill or resolution — who leads a conference that doesn’t believe in compromise and can’t agree on many issues.
Even on must-pass measures such as the debt ceiling, McCarthy clearly isn’t on the same page as House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington, and The New York Times reported last week that the speaker not only lacks confidence in Arrington — McCarthy has reportedly told many that he considers the Texan “incompetent” — he also believes he cannot rely on Scalise, describing the Louisianan as “ineffective, checked out and reluctant to take a position on anything.”
In other words, as the House Republican majority prepares to celebrate 100 days in power, the GOP has no real legislative plans, no budget, weak leadership, several “ready-to-go” bills it can’t pass, and key internal divisions.
Late last week, the Pew Research Center published the results of its latest national survey, which showed President Joe Biden struggling with a low 37% approval rating. Congressional Democrats were even less popular, with a 33% approval rating. But congressional Republicans were even further back, with a 29% approval rating.
If GOP leaders expect that number to improve anytime soon, they should probably lower their expectations.